Jesus

This year, with the Coronavirus, we find ourselves in a very different type of Easter holiday. Most of us are away from our family, and so we won’t be having the traditional Easter dinner and gathering. It’s a very strange year, but in one way, it is a return to a more spiritual holiday. People who have little ones probably will have the candy, and maybe the traditional dinner, but those of us, who have family that don’t live with us, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren whether they live far away, or right here in the same city, can’t get together with our families. It is the hardest thing we have ever done, especially those with young grandchildren and great grandchildren. It is terrible hard not to hold them or kiss them. We are grateful for things like FaceTime, and telephone, but they are a very poor substitute for being there together.

That said, I think that a number of us who are at home…alone or in couples, and not planning to have a special meal, are taking a step backward and reflecting on this day separately from the meal and gathering. It is a unique opportunity to focus on the real reason for this day. to focus without all the meal prep, table setting, and clean up. What a strangely wonderful opportunity!! Strange…only because we are free focus completely on Jesus and what He did for us. Usually, we honor Him by going to church, and then we come home to the preparations for the gathering with family. Next year, that is what we will do again, and that is ok, but this year…with social distancing, is a rare “gift” that we won’t have again, and that is ok too, because we would rather spend this day with our loved ones. We would rather spend this day with our family, and honor our Saviour together, but that is not to be. We will all miss each other very much today, as we do any time we are apart. And when this is over…truly over, we will all have a special dinner…a type of redemption dinner, when we are redeemed for quarantine, and free to gather once again. Then we will come together and celebrate the victory over Coronavirus…victory that Jesus won for us when He died on the cross to save us from sin, sickness, and disease. The He rose again to tell us all the wonderful news. Happy Easter to all…alone together, the way it needs to be for now.

Christmas…a time with family, presents under the Christmas tree, eating far too much great food…is that all there is too it? No, of course not!! In fact, those things have very little to do with Christmas. That’s because Jesus is the reason for the season. The family time, food, and gifts are fine, but we should never forget the gift God gave us on that wonderful day so long ago. The people of Earth had made such a mess of things here. No, I’m not talking about climate change. I’m talking about sin. God could have walked away, and started the whole thing over, but His heart was with his children. He wanted us all to be with Him in Heaven, when our time here on Earth is over. He knew that we needed at Saviour, and so His son agreed to leave Heaven and come to Earth…as a helpless baby.

Adam had sinned and ruined things here, and it would take a man without sin…for his whole life, to change the whole outcome of Adam’s mistake. Jesus had to be born as a human baby, because that was the only way to operate in the Earth realm. Then, He had to live a sinless life. It didn’t matter what human parts of him were trying to tell him to do, he couldn’t get angry, be disrespectful, lie, or any other sin. If you and I were to be saved by Jesus’ death on the cross, He had to be sinless. It was the only way for his death to make a difference. It would be a horribly cruel death, and Jesus knew it, but He did what He had to do…and it all started when He came to Earth as a baby to become our Saviour. Nothing beats that.

Yes, the family gatherings are great, and the gifts are nice, but the greatest gift that was ever given was the gift of a perfect life that became the sacrifice to restore righteousness to those who could not live a perfect life. It was an amazing gift, and one we cannot ever thanks Him for enough. Happy birthday dear Jesus. Thanks you for your sacrifice, and Merry Christmas everyone. Have a great holiday, thank you for all you did for us.

My sister, Cheryl Masterson is the oldest of our parents’ five daughters, and because of that, the one who inherited the most responsibility early on. When I was born, almost two years later, she became a big sister, and from every picture I have seen of us together, she was very pleased to be a big sister. She was very helpful and loving, showing me the things in life that she had discovered. Those were sweet days. She was always the same, as I recall, when a new sister came along. Being the oldest, and often the one most capable of holding babies, she got the first shot at the honor of holding her newest sister…and again the honor of showing each new sister the ropes of life. She was also the mother’s helper and later the first sister to babysit the rest of us.

As the years went by. it was time for Cheryl to start school, and by then, there were two more sisters in the mix. It was going to be difficult for our mom, Collene Spencer to walk Cheryl the five blocks to school, so Chery was going to walk with other kids, and of course, Mom was apprehensive. Nevertheless, those were different times, and kids walked to school. Mom had to figure out a way to let Cheryl go, and the only way that worked for her was to turn her precious daughter over to God. Cheryl left for school that first morning with the words we would all come to know well, “Jesus will take care of you” in her ears. Our dad, Allen Spencer, also adopted those words in full agreement with Mom’s confession over us. Those words have carried all of us through our lives, and they’ve been passed down to our own kids and grandkids. It was another of the many firsts that started with Cheryl, as the oldest sister.

Now that our parents have gone to Heaven, Cheryl has become the family matriarch. We aren’t required to answer to her, of course, but we all feel a sense of family and Cheryl is in a big way, the main part of keeping things that way. We all let each other know of travel plans…departures and arrivals…and of course, tell each other “Jesus will take care of you” just like Mom did on Cheryl’s very first day of school. It keeps our parents in our lives, and Cheryl is a reminder of where it all started. Today is Cheryl’s birthday. Happy birthday Cheryl!! Have a great day, and enjoy the rain that God has provided for you, since you love that kind of weather!! We love you!!

There are two major ways that God has “gifted” His children. Yes, God gives us great and wonderful gifts all the time, but the greatest gift He could give us was His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus came to earth as a baby, and went through all the same things in life that we did, but did it all without sinning. Most of us can’t imagine going through 10 minutes without having a wrong thought, action, or attitude. We can be sharp tongued, selfish, and grouchy. Jesus could do none of those things. Everything he did had to be truthful, kind, and selfless. He had to be all the things we could not be, and then he had to be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, because the people of Earth were in trouble…and without Jesus, there was no way out of it.

God knew that we were lost and that there was no Earthly way out of the situation, so because He loved the world so much, He sent His Son, Jesus and Jesus willingly came to Earth, knowing what would happen to him when he was a grown man. He could have stopped it. He could have told his Father that he didn’t want to go, but he didn’t. He accepted the unspeakable job that his Father, our God set before him, and he went through with it. I’m sure he thought about how horrible this would be, and I’m sure that a part of him wanted to make the whole progression stop, but he knew that if he didn’t do it, the world would have to pay the price of spiritual death for eternity.

What an amazingly selfless act of love!! Jesus paid it all…past, present, and future. We are free!! We are redeemed!! The horrible crucifixion was a successful payment for our sins. I am redeemed…we are all redeemed, and all we have to do is accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. It’s as simple as that. Thank you Jesus!! Happy Resurrection Day!!

When most people think of Christmas, their minds think of Santa Clause, turkey dinners, and weeks of preparatory shopping, and yes those things are a part of Christmas for most people, but there is a far more important reason for the Christmas season…the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Lord. Yes, I am aware that we don’t know the exact date of our Saviour’s birth, and many are quite certain that it was nowhere near December 25th, and in reality, not in winter. To most Christians, however, those minor details don’t matter, because we are talking about our Lord. It’s ok to celebrate Jesus anytime.

Most Christians think of gift giving as being symbolic of the greatest gift ever given…Jesus who came to earth to save us from our sin filled world by dying on the cross so that we would be able to go Heaven. Of course, no gift we could ever give could measure up to the gift Jesus gave us, but we can celebrate Jesus by having a giving spirit. After all, that is what Jesus was all about. I don’t mean presents, but rather the ultimate gift, the greatest love ever given…”For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. What great gift could there ever be than to give His life so that we could live, and what greater reason could there ever be to celebrate Jesus. The date error, if there is one, makes no difference…just God’s love.

Christmas means different things to different people, of course, but I think that the most important thing is to make sure that we don’t lose sight of the real reason for the season…the birth of the Saviour of the world. Before Jesus came,we had no hope. We were lost, and going to Hell. After Jesus lived, died, and rose again, everything changed and hope returned. For Christians, there is nothing more important. Jesus is our advocate with the Father. He is the the true meaning o grace. His git to us…salvation, was not something we could ever earn. we were lost and all hope was gone. Then Jesus was born, and we had a reason to celebrate again. Happy birthday Jesus, and Merry Christmas everyone.

When I think of Easter, I immediately think of my Christian faith. I think of the miracle of salvation, and the willing sacrifice of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The human race was in so much trouble. Sin had entered in and we were doomed. There was no way out, because the wages of sin is death and all has sinned. But God has a solution. Innocent blood must be shed to pay the price for all those who had sinned. There was not other way to reverse the curse that sin had brought sin the world.

The death of Jesus, on Good Friday, was a brutal one. As we know, humans have the ability to inflict horrible pain and wounds upon one another. Jesus was a man, but he was also God. He felt every brutal flogging, and endured every humiliation that was thrust upon him, and he did it knowing that it was vital. In fact it was the most important mission in history…past, present, and future. No single act would ever be more important, because the death on the cross was a “once for all” thing. His death reversed history. What the devil stole from the human race, Jesus returned.

When Jesus arose from the dead, three days later, our justification was complete. We could now go to Heaven, just by believing that Jesus had made that sacrifice for us, and accepting him as our Lord and Saviour. Such a simple way to receive eternal life, and yet, so many people refuse to receive, because they think they will have to give up their fun life. Little do they know what they are really giving up. This life is just a moment in time…Heaven is forever. The difference is stark. This life is fleeting and soon will be gone, but the next life will never end, and we can choose where we spend it, so we must choose wisely.

Many people celebrated with a big dinner, and Easter candy, and that is fine but people should never forget the real reason we celebrate Easter…the resurrection of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour. Jesus is risen!! He is alive!! Happy Easter everyone!!

My mom, Collene Spencer was a sweet, loving, and forgiving person all her life. She carried that personality into her marriage and motherhood. I’ve really never met anyone who was as truly kind hearted as my mom was. All of her life she had a heart for people. She tried to tell people about the most important thing in her life…her Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Mom wanted everyone she came across to be in Heaven when they died. Mom was in every way a missionary…just without the funding that many missionaries have. She didn’t travel the world to preach the Gospel, she traveled her world preaching the Gospel. It didn’t matter where she was, if she was with family, friends, or strangers, her mission was clear, and she was a willing servant of the Lord. My guess is that the people she led to the Lord by preaching to them numbers in the thousands. It is her legacy in many ways.

Mom loved all things of beauty. She grew up collecting rocks, and her rock garden was filled with her many finds. She saw beauty in many different things. Our home was decorated with Mom’s own special style, that also included the “artwork” of her girls from time to time. I can’t say that our “artwork” really added to the beauty of her home, but in her eyes they were treasures. I know how much she treasured these things, because when we went through her things after her passing, there were her treasures, including the artwork of her girls. Her girls and her husband, my dad, Allen Spencer, were her world. She wanted nothing more than to take care of us and make a good home for us, and she did that very well, even though she was not able to be a stay-at-home mom for all of our growing up years.

Mom always loved to travel. It was something Dad introduced her to, and together, they traveled the United States, visiting almost every state. The vacations we took and the places we got to see were amazing. They showed us every historical marker they could find, and while we might not have appreciated those markers then, we learned so much about our country. I think I can attribute many of my stories to things I learned from my parents. Camping was the order of the day when we traveled, and cooking over a campfire, until later when we got a travel trailer. Mom was an excellent cook and she passed that ability down to her girls. There wasn’t one of her girls who couldn’t cook when we got married, and our husbands have been the beneficiaries of her teaching. She was an amazing teacher of many things, including helping out at our schools, even substitute teaching when I was in grade school. It was another way that she traveled her world, filling it with life, light, and beauty as she went. Today would have been my mom’s 82nd birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Mom. We love and miss you very much.

The Christmas rush is behind us for another year. The gifts are purchased, and wrapped, and for many people, already opened. Christmas dinner is being prepared and families are gathering together. The house is filled with laughter and conversation and stomachs are growling just a bit as the aroma of the turkey fills the air. It’s hard to wait for the meal to be ready. It’s such a wonderful time to be sharing with family. Many people think of these big dinners as a lot of work, and it can be almost a relief to have them over, but really, they are a gift. All to quickly, children grow up and sometimes, move away, and before you can even blink, everything has changed. All the more reason to cherish the times you have, while you have them.

So much has changed since the Christmases of my youth, and while I wouldn’t go back, because then I wouldn’t have my precious daughters, sons-in-law, grandchildren, and now the new little great grandbaby that is on the way in late spring 2018. But, I do wish my parents, Allen and Collene Spencer were still here. Having them in Heaven brings a little bit of a melancholy feeling to an otherwise cheerful season. Nevertheless, knowing that they are spending their days in Heaven with Jesus…the reason for this season, makes me feel very happy for them, even if I’m sad for me. It has been 10 Christmases since I have seen my dad, and 3 Christmases since I’ve seen my mom, as well as, 5 Christmases since I’ve seen my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg. It’s odd, I suppose to think of how many Christmases they have been gone, but they were such a big part of what Christmas was for me, as well as every day of my life, that I find it really hard not to contemplate the fact that so much has changed in the years since they left, and just how much we miss them.

While the commercialized part of Christmas is about giving and receiving gifts from loved ones, it is the ultimate gift that really is what Christmas is all about. I don’t know what other people think about gift giving, but for me, it is God’s children imitating the Father. God gave us the ultimate gift, when He sent His son, and Jesus gave us the ultimate gift when He gave His life for us. We can never give a gift that could begin to compare to the precious gift that God gave us, but it is a show of our love for each other, and I know that makes God happy. He wanted His children to love each other, just as He so loved the world. I’m thankful for the coming of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and for the price He later paid, because without Him none of us would receive Heaven when we passed away. That you Father for your precious gift, and thank you Jesus for paying my debt. Happy birthday Jesus. We love you!!

The older I get, the more that I know that Heaven is my true home. Never is that fact more clear, than on Resurrection Sunday, because whether we know the exact day or not, we know that it was that day that the Christians first knew that they were truly right with God again. Many people have disputed the celebration of Easter, or Resurrection Sunday, saying that it’s roots were in paganism, but I have to say that I refuse to give the devil any day on this earth. I know why I celebrate Easter. It’s not because of a bunny, but because of a lamb. Jesus is the Lamb of God…the sacrifice that paid for the sins of the world…past, present, and future. And now, because He lives, I know that I can face tomorrow. It is because of the grace of God…the unearned, unmerited favor and mercy of a loving God that I get to spend eternity in Heaven with Him. That is what the day is about, and if we are celebrating it on the wrong day, I don’t think God will mind. It’s not about getting the day right, but rather getting the reason right.

The sacrifice that Jesus made on Good Friday was so much more than what we often think about. Yes, when Jesus died…an innocent man, it was to forgive all our sins, past, present, and future, but the reason he returned to the earth was to justify us…to put us back in right standing with God forever…just as if we had never sinned. That is why we can say that we are a new creation when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour…because God no longer sees our sins. They are gone forever. When Jesus died on the cross, the sacrifice was enough. Nothing more is required, and all we have to do is accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, and we are going to Heaven. The cross was all it took…the cross was enough!!

Most of God’s celebratory days, include a feast, and Resurrection Sunday should be no different. Resurrection Day is a celebration, after all. Someone said that Earth’s saddest day, and it happiest day…are only three days apart. Today, I am thankful for the sacrifice my Lord Jesus made, and for the triumphant return to earth that followed so that I could always know that the cross was enough, and I am going to be alright…now and in Heaven. Thank you Jesus, for your sacrifice!! Happy Resurrection Day everyone. Have a blessed day!!

JesusThe presents are purchased, the packages wrapped, all of the commercialized aspects of the day are over now and there is finally time to take a moment to ponder the real reason for the Christmas season…the birth of our Saviour…Jesus. So often, we spend so much time rushing around trying to get ready for the holiday, that we have little time to think about the wonderful thing our Father, God did for us!! We were a world lost, and destined for Hell!! He had no obligation to help us. We got into this predicament by ourselves…and He could have left us there, but God’s love is not like human love. We hold grudges…even with those we love. God does not hold grudges, but rather, He set out to make a plan to turn it all around. He came up with a plan to send Jesus to Earth…and worked it out so that He lived a sinless life, as a human, and then paid the price… the ultimate price. And Jesus agreed to the plan. He gave his life for us so we could live our lives under grace, and receive Heaven and not Hell in the end.

So often, the birth of our Saviour is all but forgotten in the mix of Santa Clause and a big dinner. I find that really sad, especially in light of the sacrifice He made for us. I can’t imagine being God and deciding to take on a human form, much less a baby who is for much of its young life helpless, and forced to rely on others for all your needs. Then, while you had never sinned in any way, you are taken captive, beaten, and nailed to a cross. Then in the only way it could possibly work, Jesus was separated for God, while he took all the sins of the world on himself. It had to be, because the worst result of sin, is separation for God. That would be far worse than Hell could ever be. God’s love is the most important thing we have. It is what saves us from the pit of Hell.

Nativity sceneThere is nothing wrong with the Christmas traditions we cherish so much, and giving has always been what God is all about. The main thing is that in the midst of all of our traditions, we take time to be thankful for the greatest gift ever given. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16, one of the most important verses in a book that is the greatest book ever written…the Bible. God is love, and when we sinned, He stepped up and made a way for us to be reconciled to him. He sent a Saviour named Jesus. And that is the real reason for the Christmas season. Merry Christmas everyone!! May God bless you all!!

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